The big switchover from analogue to digital TV has already had beneficial spin-offs for one West Midlands communications company – with a major growth in personnel.
Radio Frequency Systems (RFS), one of the world’s largest designers and manufacturers of wireless communication products, has quadrupled its workforce in Warwick since a move to the area in 2006.
The company, which has its headquarters in Paris and main broadcast office in Australia, plus offices in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, produces cable and wireless antennae systems for broadcast TV, radio and telecommunications. A broadcast division of RFS was launched at the University of Warwick Science Park’s Innovation Centre at Warwick Technology Park two years ago, ahead of the digital switchover.
The team has now expanded from two to six engineers plus a project manager, two sales people and one administration assistant, with clients including Arqiva, the NEC, the European TDF group and Ireland’s public TV service RTE.
Dave Thickett, broadcast systems sales director of RFS and based at the Innovation Centre, said: “Our clients prefer to have the work completed a year before they have to replace analogue transmissions with digital, to make sure that they are set up in time and to allow for bad weather which delays work.
“We were extremely busy last summer because of this and are expecting our busiest summer yet this year as the big switchover gets well underway.
“Once it is complete, we expect the demand for UK work to decrease, but by using the experience we’re getting now we will then focus our attention to other countries that will eventually be implementing the switchover.
“With clients already in France, Hungary, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Syria, we will continue to work from the UK base here at the Innovation Centre.”
Scotland was the first area in the UK to convert from analogue to digital, with the South West next to undergo the process. The switchover for the whole of the UK is due to be complete by 2012.
John Barnes, manager of the Innovation Centre, said: “It’s great RFS have been able to expand in such a short time. When they moved to the Innovation Centre, they were only a small team, but they had big plans, and that’s how they’ve managed to expand both the workforce and client base in just two years. Using our flexible lease arrangements they have been able to take on additional space in the centre as their workforce has grown.
“Now the digital switchover is underway they are about to have an influx of business opportunities in the UK, and we are delighted that they intend to work from the base at the Innovation Centre where they look to achieve expansion once the switchover goes overseas.”